“Regardless of cultural preferences, good pork chops are worth their weight in culinary gold. When a quality pork chop is perfectly cooked, the buttery texture and unique flavor are simply dream-worthy.” (Art Culinaire)
Face it. You’ve probably eaten your weight in shoe-leather pork chops in your time. For decades, mothers (and some fathers) cooked their pork anxiously, trying to avoid trichinosis, waiting until the internal temperature of your pork chop reached 180°. And, therefore, until the meat had the chewing consistency of jerky, or a baseball glove. Or the back of the shoe the dog was gnawing on. Nothing good. Not the way you want good meat to taste.
Well, the good news is this: “When it comes to cooking pork chops, think “pink.” Contrary to popular belief, pork chops do not need to be incinerated in order to be safe to eat. Overcooking is the largest contributor to pork’s reputation of being overly dry.” You only need to cook pork to 160°. (Some chefs cook it lower, and they swear by 150°. But here, we’ll keep to standard form.)
Pork chops can be a glorious eating experience, if you have a thick-cut, bone-in chop. Like this loin blade chop, pictured above. (This one is from SeaBreeze Farms.)
The loin blade chop (sometimes called the blade pork chop or the pork chop end cut) comes from the part of the loin closest to the shoulder. (If you would like a refresher course on the cuts of the loin, see here.) You might confuse this chop with a cut called pork blade steak (and really, who wouldn’t? we need better, more differentiating names for these cuts), which comes from the shoulder. That one’s fattier. This pork chop is leaner than a shoulder steak, but fattier than the center-cut loin chop. (Blade chops contain more connective tissue than does the center of the loin. The muscles near the shoulder are used more often.)
Now, some folks say these loin blade chops are tough. They insist they must be braised or marinated before cooking. We think that’s because they are probably buying thin chops, which can dry out quickly. Also, boneless pork chops (all the rage in grocery stores) dry out almost immediately. The bone in a bone-in pork chop will help keep the meat tender while cooking and add more flavor for the eating. Ask your butcher for a thick-cut, bone-in blade chop (there’s a mouthful) and cook it at home. Let us know what you think.
The boneless pork chop has become so ubiquitous in this culture that it’s almost impossible to find recipes for loin blade chops on the internet. (Believe us, we looked.) So here are a few recipes for bone-in pork chops, just a start. Let us know what you think.
Maybe it’s time for you to create the best loin blade chop recipe around. We’d love to try it.
How to Make the Juiciest Grilled Pork Chops, by Bruce Aidells (you have to start a free trial membership to see this article)